Former North Carolina governor, teacher shares thoughts on VP Pence’s visit

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Before Beverly Perdue was a public school teacher before she was a legislator, lieutenant governor, or governor in North Carolina. It’s a first-hand perspective that helps shape Perdue’s opinion when it comes to education.

“I don’t think a teacher over 40 would feel comfortable in the school building at this point in time given the fact that one of the schools that has opened, a private school with a multitude of resources, has already had a COVID case,” Purdue said. “I think it’s an accident waiting to happen, except, in this situation, it’s not an accident. It’s a known.”

Purdue is referring to Thales Academy in Apex. The school’s Raleigh campus had a staff member in training test positive for coronavirus the week it reopened.

“This philosophy that both (President Donald) Trump and now the vice president seem to have embraced Katie Bar, the door open schools, regardless doesn’t take into account what the locals’ situation, health data is, (or) where the curve is.” Purdue said. “And it just frightens me for the safety of the teachers and the children. I don’t want my grandchildren to start school in that kind of situation this fall. They are going to do virtual and that opportunity is there for them. And, certainly, when it all gets better, kids belong in a school building, but not at risk to their lives.”

Vice President Mike Pence spent part of his Wednesday visit to the Triangle in Apex at Thales Academy. He was advocating for school choice and North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Act, which provides tuition assistance for private schools.

“I think for families who can afford 100% private education, that’s a good choice. It’s a viable choice for them to make,” Purdue said. “But most of the children in America cannot afford that kind of education, and I think the federal government, our tax dollars, and the vice president and the president should focus on what makes public schools better — where the majority of Americans get educated.”

As governor, Purdue expanded North Carolina’s pre-kindergarten program. It allowed for thousands of additional children to be served. She believes public funding of private schools only hurts the state-supported school system.

“I think anything you do to take money away from public school system and instead subvert it, transfer it to a private school or to a church school, which were all fine if it weren’t using public dollars, does diminish the capacity of the public school system to function and to pay for highly qualified educators,” she said.

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